IT Consultant Proposes Unified Voice and Data Communication Across Public Sector

Photo: contributed Chief Information Officer (CIO) in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (MSTEM), Dr. Louis Shallal.

Story Highlights

  • The establishment of unified data and voice communication for the Government of Jamaica is among several recommendations from newly appointed Chief Information Officer (CIO) in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (MSTEM), Dr. Louis Shallal.
  • According to the CIO, ICT transformation in the public sector will improve the services offered by the MDAs to the citizens, to businesses, tourists and employees of other departments.
  • Improvement in ICT is among a set of initiatives being supported by the Office of the Cabinet, which has responsibility for the Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation Programme (PSTMP).

The establishment of unified data and voice communication for the Government of Jamaica is among several recommendations from newly appointed Chief Information Officer (CIO) in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (MSTEM), Dr. Louis Shallal.

“We have a fairly scattered network in Jamaica, upon which travels our data and our voice…what we are looking for is a unified communication concept,” he tells JIS News.

“That will bring …one network that will connect all the Government offices, all the Government agencies, all the MDAs (Ministries Departments and Agencies), with appropriate telecommunications network, fibre or wireless, in order to move all the applications that the Government uses to deliver services via this network,” he explains further.

Dr. Shallal says the network will be called “GovNET” and “GovTALK” for data and voice communication, respectively.

“We would like to see this as a concept delivered, so I will be initiating and recommending a concept for that,” he says.

The top information technology executive has been employed to improve the use of technology within the public sector in order to boost service delivery.

Improvement in ICT is among a set of initiatives being supported by the Office of the Cabinet, which has responsibility for the Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation Programme (PSTMP).

 

Since his arrival in the island in April, Dr. Shallal tells JIS News that he has delivered an Inception Report, which sets out the timelines, milestones and deliverables that need to be achieved to transform the public sector to be able to make full use of ICT. Implementation of the actions in the report will have MSTEM oversight.

Dr. Shallal says he has recommended the sharing of ICT services with emphasis on data centre operations and consolidation.

“We have numerous, numerous servers sitting in closets of different MDAs … I will be most likely recommending consolidation of these servers bringing them into fewer data centres, so that we cannot only save on the cost of the power, but also reduce our data duplication and improve our data sharing throughout the organisations,” he notes.

The CIO is also proposing the establishment of a Government of Jamaica Portal to provide e-Government online services to citizens and businesses.

“We want to create a knowledge-based society. We need to interact with the citizens and to the best of our abilities, ensure that we can meet all their requirements via any channel of service that they choose and the portal will give them the specific channel of online service so that they can interact.

“They don’t have to go to the individual business offices to do their transaction. They should be able to do them from the comfort of their homes and obtain the information from the portal, do their transaction, provide comments to the Government and they can do it seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and 365 days a year,” he outlines.

Dr. Shallal contends that a citizen should be able “to access their Government to look for information, to ask for transaction, to download a form, to voice his or her opinion on issues that affect their communities.”

 

According to the CIO, ICT transformation in the public sector will improve the services offered by the MDAs to the citizens, to businesses, tourists and employees of other departments.

“Technology is an enabler. Technology will enable these people to deliver their services more effectively and to reach out and use all the channels of technology to provide these services to the citizens,” he points out.

Dr. Shallal is also proposing establishment of an Enterprise Information Security Architecture (EISA) for Government websites, along with the development of the associated ICT standards, procedures and guidelines.

“For security, we need to develop layers of protection around our network and our individual MDAs to ensure that we have proper firewalls, intrusion detection, ways that we can circumvent those hackers and also a process as part of our national cyber security strategy, of ensuring that we deal with the people, who are trying to hack our systems,” he says.

Dr. Shallal, who is on a one-year contract with MSTEM, tells JIS News that he will be prescribing a five-year transformation process.

“My contract is to detail the first year of this five-year programme and it will result with a blueprint for change. (This) will be used by the Government in order to move us from where we are to where we want to be,” he points out.

He informs that a steering committee and project team, including senior officials of the Ministry, eGov Jamaica, and the Office of the Cabinet, has been developed to guide the process.

Additionally, Dr. Shallal says several ICT employees will be co-opted to participate on working groups that will help to guide processes, policies and technologies for Jamaica’s ICT needs.

 

A series of workshops will be held between September and December 2015, and consultations will take place with Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and MIS officers throughout the Ministries and organisations, non-governmental groups and the private sector.

Dr. Shallal says the consultations is to ensure that “we have a very good understanding of the goals, the aspirations of both the senior executives, as well as the people, who are working in ICT and what their expectations are, and what are the objectives and deliverables from this transformation process.”

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